Think only the big companies outsource? Think again. Today everyone—even solopreneurs—farm out some aspects of their workload. When you run a small business, the sheer amount of work that needs doing can be overwhelming. There’s the work that directly fills the cash flow pipeline, and then there are all that things that go into running a business that cost both time and money. You can actually think of these two things are income and expenses.
But when time is money, how do you decide what to do yourself and what to outsource? Here are a few thoughts to get you in the right mindset...
You’re Not An Expert
Are you a web designer? Great! You will have no problem creating your own website. Are you an insurance broker? Good. You'll know how to make sure your own business is properly insured. But if you aren't an expert in something that is critical to the growth and progress of your business, do yourself a favor and don’t do it yourself. You'll spend more time than is necessary and you won't have the experienced perspective to make the right decisions—and the negative outcomes of that sort of scenario are obvious. So farm it out. Source experts that can tackle the things your business needs that you're not qualified to do. For some folks, that can be a tough thing to do. As entrepreneurs, we don't let go of things well! But there are tangible benefits to outsourcing tasks you're not great at. Say you bill your customers $50 an hour. If you were to spend 20 hours trying to figure out how to, say, design a website (a task you're no expert in), that's $1,000 you didn't bill but instead spent. It's really a $2,000 loss. Bottom line: admit your shortcomings and hire experts. Your profitability will thank you.
You’re Being Killed By Time-Suck Tasks
A 2012 study revealed that most of us spend a quarter of our workday reading and answering emails. Think about that for a second: that’s a minimum of two hours each day you're not doing work that contributes to your bottom line. Minimally, that adds up to 650 hours a year (assuming you take two weeks off a year). If you consider how much you charge per hour and multiply that by 650 you’ll be knocked over by how much money you’re losing.
While something like email may be a necessary evil, consider time-suck tasks that can be outsourced. Hire a virtual assistant to manage your calendar, and countless other tasks. Sign up with some online accounting software to help you tackle bookkeeping tasks from anywhere, anytime. (Surprise, surprise, we've got a recommendation there!) Take a good look at what is eating up your work time and try to determine if it’s something you can outsource.
Of course the challenge will be properly instructing and training the virtual assitant, so be diligent in scoping out your needs and requirements.
Outsourcing Can Keep You Legal
Regulations that govern your business evolve all the time, whether you’re talking about tax law, safety issues, employee benefits, etc. Working with an agency or firm that specializes in the legal aspects of your industry is the ideal way to know what changes and plans you need to have in place for you business to maintain compliance. The last thing you want is some sort of major fine or, worse, a shutdown notice because you were unaware of some new regulation.
Think of it this way: if you’ve never swung a hammer to do more than hang a picture, you wouldn’t attempt to build your store or office yourself, right? Could you figure it out? Sure, you're smart. But why waste time and money on things you don't do effectively? You’ll find outsourcing the right projects to the right people will end up saving you both time and money in the long run. Take a good, long look at where you could use help. You won’t regret it. You might even consider hiring a consultant who can help you figure out what tasks are best outsourced! And before we go, here's a short list of business tasks that might be worth outsourcing, either to a human or a machine!
- Accounting / Bookkeeping
- Social media marketing
- Tax prep / Tax filing
- Graphic design
- Web design
- Marketing content (writing)
- Order fulfillment
- Tech support
- Customer support management
And don forget the value of a virtual assitant! Chris Ducker has a great list of tasks VAs can rock.